Callaway, Troup ranked high in polls
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Expectations are high for the Troup Tigers and the Callaway Cavaliers, and that’s reflected in the Maxpreps high-school rankings that were released this week.
Both teams are near the top in their respective classifications.
In Class AAAA, Troup is ranked second, with Cartersville holding down the top spot.
Troup, which is led by fifth-year head coach Tanner Glisson, is coming off the best season in the history of the program.
Troup went 12-2 and set a program record for wins in a season and made it to the state semifinals before losing to eventual state-champion Blessed Trinity.
Many of the players who helped the Tigers achieve that success, including all-state quarterback Kobe Hudson, have returned.
Hudson is part of a senior class that has known nothing but success, dating back to their time at Long Cane Middle School when they were part of a championship team.
In high school, the seniors have helped the Tigers go 29-8 the past three years, and they’ve improved their win total in each of those years.
Before the arrival of Hudson and the other current seniors, Troup went 1-9 in 2015.
“Starting with this group, going all the way back to Long Cane, they’ve always competed,” Glisson said. “Nobody on this roster knows anything about the 1-9, or anything else. So they’re excited, and we’re excited. We’ve just got to take it one step at a time.”
Three of the top-five teams in Class AAAA play in Region 5-AAAA, and that includes Cartersville and Troup.
A year ago, those teams were 9-0 heading into the regular-season finale, which was won by Cartersville.
Sandy Creek, another member of Region 5-AAAA, is ranked fifth.
Blessed Trinity, which was hit hard by graduation following its championship season, is ranked fourth.
LaGrange, which went 2-8 last season but was competitive in nearly every game is ranked 23rd.
LaGrange made tremendous strides from the 2017 season when it was winless.
Chuck Gibbs, LaGrange’s second-year head coach, is hopeful fans will enjoy what they see when they come to one of the games this fall.
“They know they’re going to get sound football, and they know they’re going to get kids that are going to be as competitive as they can be,” Gibbs said. “Let’s get back to where the Grangers play great defense, and we’re able to score enough points to win football games. That’s really where I see us right n ow. That’s are mantle that we’ve got to carry. We kind of know what we are, and who we are want what we do.”
In Class AA, Callaway is ranked third after putting together another phenomenal season under head coach Pete Wiggins.
Callaway went 11-3 last season and reached the state semifinals for the third time since 2013.
Callaway lost a 20-13 heartbreaker to Rockmart, which fell to Heard County the following week in the state-championship game.
Wiggins is heading into his 15th season as Callaway’s head coach, and he has accumulated a career record of 126-45.
The Cavaliers are coming off the best four-year stretch in the history of the program.
Callaway is 45-8 during that stretch, and that includes trips to the semifinals in 2016 and 2018, as well as a quarterfinal appearance in 2017.
The Cavaliers, despite having to replace more than 20 seniors, appear positioned to keep the good times going this season.
Among Callaway’s returning players is senior running back Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby, who ran for more than 2,000 yards last season.
While the players change each year, Wiggins said the attitude doesn’t.
“Tomorrow’s a new day,” Wiggins said. “You have to pick up your lunch pail and you have to come to work. The kids are working hard, and there are high expectations. There’s lots of shoes to fill, but all we can ask for is an opportunity. Our players are excited. Our coaches are excited. And we’re looking forward to the season.”
Dublin is ranked first in Class AA, and 2017 state champion Hapeville Charter is second.
Heard County, which plays in Region 5-AA along with Callaway, is ranked seventh.
Bremen, another member of Region 5-AA, is just outside the top-10 in 12th.